Volunteer abroad program photograph

FAQs about Volunteering Abroad

Learn more about international volunteer opportunities by clicking on these frequently asked questions. You may request additional information by completing the International Inquiry Form or by contacting the VIP representative in your country.

About the program:

About the volunteers:

About program support and logistics:

About finances:

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Why should I choose VIP?

VIP knows the importance of:

How long is the program?

A typical program lasts 2-3 months. Depending on the country you choose, you may elect to participate from one month to one year. In-country circumstances and visa requirements often determine the maximum length of time permitted. Special requests for shorter programs (2-3 weeks) may also be accommodated in certain countries. Check the program description/overview page for the country of your choice, or ask the local program coordinator in your home country.

How far in advance do I have to apply?

We suggest 3-4 months as a comfortable lead-time. This gives your host country office the time needed to make arrangements for your arrival and to select an appropriate host project and homestay family.

Will there be an orientation?

Yes. In addition to information you receive before your departure, each VIP program begins with an orientation period designed to introduce you to various aspects of the culture and society of your host country. At this time you will meet the staff at the host country office, review health, security and travel issues, homestay expectations and procedures and details of your volunteer service project.

What is the procedure for applying?

The first step in the process is to complete the International Inquiry Form so that volunteer placement discussions can begin between you and your sending country office.

The second step is to complete a VIP Application Form. Your application and a deposit of 20% of the program fee should be submitted at least 90 days before your preferred start date.

After you have submitted your application and deposit you will be contacted to set up the required interview. Unless circumstances make it impossible, the interview will be done in person. When necessary a telephone interview may be arranged.

You will be notified about your acceptance following the interview and upon confirmation from the host country that a suitable project is available that meets your needs and preferred dates.

Can I choose my host family or select a specific project?

No, your host country office will make the final selection of a host family and service project. However, we want to know about your interests and if you prefer a particular area of type of project so that they can take this into consideration when matching you with an appropriate family and host organization.

What will I do with my time?

Each volunteer service project is unique but most will expect you to follow a schedule that involves working Monday through Friday. Evenings and weekends are often free for you to explore the region, plan excursions to nearby places of interest or just relax and get to know your community better. When living with a homestay family you will want to participate in as many family activities as possible, so be sure to check with your hosts before making plans to go off on your own.

ABOUT THE VOLUNTEERS

Who can participate?

Partnership Volunteers must be at least 18 years old (except for US participants who must be at least 19 years of age). VIP is looking for volunteers who are mature, flexible, open-minded, interested in others, tolerant, independent, resourceful and interested in learning about other cultures.

Do I need special skills or qualifications?

For most general placements your interest, enthusiasm and commitment will be the most important qualifications. Some volunteer placements (i.e. healthcare, teaching etc.) will require special credentials.

Do I need to speak a foreign language?

Being able to communicate in the host language will help you get the most from your experience and help you be even more effective as a volunteer. Most programs include language training on arrival to help the beginners get a good start and the more advanced speakers to improve their skills. (If requested, optional language classes may also be available at an additional fee.) After living with a family and communicating daily with co-workers and others at your host project, you'll be amazed at how much you can learn in a relatively short period of time.

Can we volunteer as a couple or with a friend?

You are welcome to apply with a spouse, partner or friend. However, VIP cannot guarantee that homestay or host project placements will be at the same location.

Can I contact former volunteers?

Whenever possible VIP will put you in touch with former volunteers who can tell you of their own experiences in the country of your choice.

Will there be other volunteers with me?

VIP is tailored to meet your schedule so this will depend on the country you choose, the time of year and the volunteer service project selected for you. In some cases you may have orientation and language training with others and then go separately to your host project. Whatever the case, you'll meet many local people who are looking forward to knowing you and helping you feel at home in their community.

ABOUT PROGRAM SUPPORT AND LOGISTICS

What is the role of the VIP office in my home country?

Your VIP sending office is responsible for:

What is the role of the VIP office in my host country?

Your VIP host country office is responsible for:

Who will oversee my program and help me if I have problems?

Your Local Coordinator is the person at the center of your program. This is the person who will coordinate communication and activities between you, your host project and your host family. The Local Coordinator is also available to help resolve any issues that arise during your homestay or volunteer work experience.

Will I have access to telephone and email?

Unless you are advised otherwise, access to telephone service will be available somewhere in the vicinity. This may mean traveling some distance -- usually not more than one hour from remote locations. Phone Shops and Internet Cafes are also generally available in towns and cities. These cafes can be good places to meet new people and it is better to use these facilities than to rely on your host family to provide phone or Internet access.

Pre-paid phone and/or Internet cards can usually be purchased at reasonable rates.

Emergency contact procedures and contingency plans will be reviewed with you during the orientation period.

Does the program provide health and accident insurance?

Health and Accident insurance is required and is usually available through your sending country office. This coverage is specifically designed for overseas travel and includes a comprehensive international assistance program as well as provisions for medical evacuation in case of emergency. Consult your sending office for details. The cost of insurance is in addition to the published program fee.

Do I need a visa? How do I get one?

Visa requirements vary from country to country. Your sending office will provide you with information about these requirements. It is your responsibility to apply for your visa and to pay all costs associated with securing a visa or any other required travel documents. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the end of your program.

Do I need any vaccinations?

For the most current information on recommended or required vaccinations for your destination, consult the Centers for Disease Control/Traveler's Health website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/

Always follow your doctor's advice.

ABOUT FINANCES

What does the program cost?

Fees vary depending on country and length of program. Check the overview page for the country of your choice.

What is included in the fee?

Program fees typically cover room and board, orientation, language training where applicable, in-country travel, materials and supplies, professional support staff assigned to your program and other administrative costs. Check the overview page for the country of your choice to see the specifics.

Why do I have to pay a program fee to be a volunteer?

VIP sending and receiving offices are non-profit organizations and programs are fully funded by participant fees, which cover items detailed in the question above. Host project organizations are never asked to contribute to or absorb the direct costs associated with receiving a volunteer. Some partial scholarships may be available. Contact the VIP office in your home country to inquire. Read more about Why Pay to Volunteer

What is the payment/cancellation policy?

A deposit of 20% of the total program price is due with your application. This deposit becomes non-refundable when you are notified of acceptance to the program. The balance of the program fee is due at least 30 days before departure.

The 20% deposit is forfeited if you withdraw after acceptance but before notification of placement.

If you withdraw after placement, 50% of the total program fee will be forfeited.

100% of the program fee is forfeited in the case of a 'no show' or early departure .